Volunteer Andrea reflects on the weird and wonderful books she read in 2012.

In 2011, I decided to spend half the year reading a book each week. That was crazy. I have a full-time job. I work on my novel two hours a day. I run this blog for the Potomac Review and try to make sure we publish once or twice a week. I have family and friends who expect me to interact with them on some kind of an “acceptable human level.” Reading a book each week in 2012 would have required a warp in the time-space continuum. With all the Mayan Apocalypse talk, I didn’t want to chance it. So in 2012, I decided to read whatever I could make time for.

Turns out, I didn’t spend nearly as much time reading in 2012 as I had in 2011, but I especially enjoyed the books I could make time for. I stuck to the following four general categories – science fiction, fantasy, American history and literary fiction – and read 3-5 books in each category. I consider that a nice balance. I’m sure other “helpful” and “recommended” books exist for someone like me, but 2012 was about ignoring the recommendations and reading what I wanted to read.

I became completely absorbed in Great North Road (science fiction) and drew ever closer to finishing all thirty-nine of Terry Pratchett’s published Discworld books (fantasy). As might be expected, Death and Commander Vimes have become my favorite of Pratchett’s characters. In the American History category, Grant was fantastic, but for a much shorter non-fiction jaunt through a year of D.C.-local Civil War history, try The Lady Nurse of Ward E, a real person’s diary about a year-and-a-half spent working as a nurse at Armory Square Hospital, which once sat where the National Museum of the American Indian is today. That book is free via Google Books here. Where literary fiction is concerned, I was surprised to see that books with Russian or Ukrainian authors made up most of my reading (The Last Hiccup, The Cosmopolitans, and Lolita). My Potomac Review interview with Christopher Meade (The Last Hiccup) can be found here, and the one with Nadia Kalman (The Cosmopolitans) can be found here.

All in all, I had a weird and wonderful year of reading. I hope you did, too!

1/21/2012 – The Lady Nurse of Ward E by Amanda Akin Stearns (American history)
3/3/2012 – The Cosmopolitans by Nadia Kalman (literary fiction)
3/9/2012 – Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (literary fiction)
3/24/2012 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (science fiction)
4/14/2012 – Thud! by Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
4/29/2012 – Which President Killed a Man? by James Hume (American history)
5/18/2012 – The Last Hiccup by Christopher Meades (literary fiction)
6/1/2012 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (literary fiction)
6/19/2012 – Making Money by Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
7/20/2012 – Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
9/22/2012 – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (fantasy)
9/30/2012 – Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (science fiction)
11/26/2012 – Grant by Jean Edward Smith (American history)
12/30/2012 – Great North Road by Peter Hamilton (science fiction)